Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Bay Area Metal Scene
Each week in "Unearthing the Metal Underground," we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. This week I am spreading the word from the San Francisco Bay Area metal scene.
The Bay Area's metal legacy began with the '80s thrash scene, which gave birth to Metallica, Exodus, Testament, and Death Angel. Neurosis entered the scene with their experimental metal, and Primus and Faith No More turned heads in what could only be referred to as alternative metal. Starting in the '90s, Machine Head evolved the thrash sound into groove metal. Currently, Ludicra, whose black metal has been in the scene since the late '90s, is generating a lot of excitement about their soon to release album, "The Tenant." Today, the Bay Area houses up and coming metal bands who not only reflect the heritage of the region, but filter in influences from a variety of genres.
Kowloon Walled City
Kowloon Walled City's sound is so heavy and desperate, hitting you like a ton of bricks and making the Hong Kong urban dwelling it's named for the only fitting name possible. Their record, "Gambling on the Richter Scale," is as fresh as sludgy metal can sound, yet familiar because it's got the heavy tones you've been listening for. Scott Evans' screams sail above the weight of Ian Millers' bass and Jason Pace's guitar, while Jeff Fagundes' drums keep pace. Kowloon Walled City's songs toe the line of nontraditional song structures with memorable hooks. Live, this band is just as you want them to be- an earth shatteringly loud force of nature.
Cormorant is a young band that is already making waves across the metal community with their debut album, "Metazoa." At it's core, it's death metal, but it's also so much more than that. There are guitar solos reminiscent of classic rock, occasionally it wanders into viking metal territory, and other times I'm pretty sure I'm hearing things I've just flat out never heard before. Cormorant is intelli-metal; it's themes are made for geeking out, but if you're not into that kind of thing, the music stands on it's own. For more on Cormorant, you can read my interview with lead singer and bassist Arthur von Nagel.
Orchid's classic rock/metal sound is infectious- just listen to "Eastern Woman" and try to get it out of your head. There's something very San Francisco about this band; they even refer to themselves as "hippy metal." But before you turn your nose up at that, listen to the artful way they make their Black Sabbath influenced retro sound current. Lead singer Theo Mindell's pipes really set the band apart. Their debut EP, "Through the Devil's Doorway," was just released in December.
Certainly there are more quality metal bands in the Bay Area. So if you'd like to recommend some other good underground metal bands, please feel free to discuss them in the comments below.
Check back every Monday as we delve into a different scene or genre to unearth some new underground metal bands.
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